John Dryden Quotes

Words are but pictures of our thoughts.
John Dryden
Seek not to know what must not be reveal, for joy only flows where fate is most concealed. A busy person would find their sorrows much more; if future fortunes were known before! 
John Dryden
Pains of love be sweeter far
Than all other pleasures are.
John Dryden (Tyrannic Love, 1669)
War is the trade of Kings.
John Dryden (King Arthur, 1691)
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own;
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today.
John Dryden (Imitation of Horace, 1685)
There is a pleasure in being mad which none but madmen know.
John Dryden (The Spanish Friar, 1681)
Time, place, and action may with pains be wrought, but genius must be born; and never can be taught.
John Dryden (Epistle to Congreve, 1693)
Shame on the body for breaking down while the spirit perseveres. 
John Dryden
Forgiveness to the injured does belong; but they never pardon who have done wrong. 
John Dryden (The Conquest of Granada, 1669 - 1670)
Second thoughts, they say, are best.
John Dryden (The Spanish Friar, 1681)
All heiresses are beautiful.
John Dryden (King Arthur, 1691)
Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mold with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive;
The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store
What could advancing age have added more?
It might (what nature never gives the young)
Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
A noble error, and but seldom made,
When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime,
Still showed a quickness; and maturing time
But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell, thou young,
But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue;
Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;
But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.
John Dryden (To The Memory of Mr. Oldham, 1684)
Successful crimes alone are justified.
John Dryden (The Medal, 1682)
By viewing Nature, Nature's handmaid Art,
Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow.
John Dryden (Annus Mirabilis, 1667)
’Tis so much in your nature to do good that your life is but one continued act of placing benefits on many; as the sun is always carrying his light to some part or other of the world.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern, 1700)
To die is landing on some distant shore. 
John Dryden
Our physicians have observed that, in process of time, some diseases have abated of their virulence, and have, in a manner, worn out their malignity, so as to be no longer mortal.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther, 1687)
Only man clogs his happiness with care, destroying what is with thoughts of what may be. 
John Dryden
War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
Honour but an empty bubble;
Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying.
If all the world be worth the winning,
Think, oh think it worth enjoying.
John Dryden (Alexander's Feast, 1697) 
All objects lose by too familiar view.
John Dryden (The Conquest of Granada, 1669 - 1670)
Either be wholly slaves or wholly free.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part II, 1687)
Men are but children of a larger growth,
Our appetites as apt to change as theirs,
And full as craving too, and full as vain.
John Dryden (All for Love - Act IV, 1678)
Love never fails to master what he finds,
But works a different way in different minds,
The fool enlightens, and the wise he blinds.
John Dryden (Cymon and Iphigenia)
Jealousy is the jaundice of the soul.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part III, 1687)
I am as free as Nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began.
John Dryden (The Conquest of Granada, 1669 - 1670)
We must beat the iron while it is hot, but we may polish it at leisure.
John Dryden (Dedication of the Aeneid)
For present joys are more to flesh and blood
Than a dull prospect of a distant good.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part III, 1687)
But love's a malady without a cure.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - Palamon and Arcite, 1700)
She feared no danger, for she knew no sin.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part I, 1687)
Sweet is pleasure after pain.
John Dryden (Alexander's Feast, 1697) 
Calms appear, when Storms are past;
Love will have his Hour at last:
Nature is my kindly Care;
Mars destroys, and I repair;
Take me, take me, while you may,
Venus comes not every Day.
John Dryden (The Secular Masque, 1700)
Love's the noblest frailty of the mind.
John Dryden (The Indian Emperor, 1665)
Fool that I was, upon my eagle's wings I bore this wren, till I was tired with soaring, and now he mounts above me.
John Dryden (All for Love - Act II, 1678)
Love is not in our choice but in our fate.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - Palamon and Arcite, 1700)
When I consider life, it is all a cheat. Yet fooled with hope, people favor this deceit. 
John Dryden (Aureng-zebe, 1675)
Like a led victim, to my death I'll go,
And, dying, bless the hand that gave the blow.
John Dryden (The Spanish Friar, 1681)
Art may err, but Nature cannot miss.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - The Cock and the Fox, 1700)
Even victors are by victories undone.
John Dryden (Epistle, 1700) 
All human things are subject to decay,
And when Fate summons, monarchs must obey.
John Dryden (Mac Flecknoe, 1682)
But far more numerous was the herd of such,
Who think too little, and who talk too much.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel, 1681)
For truth has such a face and such a mien, as to be loved needs only to be seen.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part I, 1687)
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. 
John Dryden
He was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.... He needed not the spectacles of books to read Nature; he looked inwards, and found her there.
John Dryden (An Essay of Dramatic Poesy - On Shakespeare, 1669)
None but the brave deserves the fair.
John Dryden (Alexander's Feast, 1697) 
He has not learned the first lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear. 
John Dryden
This good had full as bad a Consequence:
The Book thus put in every vulgar hand,
Which each presum'd he best cou'd understand,
The Common Rule was made the common Prey;
And at the mercy of the Rabble lay.
The tender Page with horney Fists was gual'd;
And he was gifted most that loudest baul'd:
The Spirit gave the Doctoral Degree:
And every member of a Company
Was of his Trade, and of the Bible free.
John Dryden (Religio Laici, 1682)
Better to hunt in fields, for health unbought, Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught, The wise, for cure, on exercise depend; God never made his work for man to mend. 
John Dryden (Epistles the Twelfth to Motteux)
Ill habits gather unseen degrees, as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.
John Dryden (Pythagorean Philosophy)
Plots, true or false, are necessary things, To raise up commonwealths and ruin kings.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel, 1681)
The sooner you treat your son as a man, the sooner he will be one.
John Dryden
Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend;
The world's an inn, and death the journey's end.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - Palamon and Arcite, 1700)
Not heaven itself upon the past has power;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
John Dryden (Imitation of Horace, 1685)
Old as I am, for ladies' love unfit,
The power of beauty I remember yet.
John Dryden (Cymon and Iphigenia)
Oh that my Pow'r to Saving were confin'd:
Why am I forc'd, like Heav'n, against my mind,
To make Examples of another Kind?
Must I at length the Sword of Justice draw?
Oh curst Effects of necessary Law!
How ill my Fear they by my Mercy scan,
Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel - Part I, 1681)
Boldness is a mask for fear, however great. 
John Dryden
They say everything in the world is good for something.
John Dryden (The Spanish Friar, 1681)
By education most have been misled; So they believe, because they were bred. The priest continues where the nurse began, And thus the child imposes on the man. 
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part III, 1687)
Ill fortune seldom comes alone.
John Dryden (Cymon and Iphigenia)
Your love by ours we measure
Till we have lost our treasure,
But dying is a pleasure,
When living is a pain.
John Dryden (The Spanish Friar, 1681)
All have not the gift of martyrdom.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part II, 1687)
Self-defence is Nature's eldest law.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel - Part I, 1681)
For they conquer who believe they can. 
John Dryden (Quoted in The Works of John Dryden: in Verse and Prose, 1859)
Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel - Part I, 1681)
Plenty makes us poor. 
John Dryden (The Medal, 1682)
Of all the tyrannies on human kind
The worst is that which persecutes the mind.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part I, 1687)
Content with poverty, my soul I arm;
And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.
John Dryden (Imitation of Horace, 1685)
With how much ease believe we what we wish!
John Dryden (All for Love - Act IV, 1678)
Softly sweet in Lydian measures
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
"War", he sung, 'is toil and trouble;
Honour but an empty bubble.
Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying;
If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O think it worth enjoying.
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
Take the good the Gods provide thee.
John Dryden (Alexander's Feast, 1697) 
War seldom enters but where wealth allures.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part II, 1687)
When beauty fires the blood, how love exalts the mind!
John Dryden (Cymon and Iphigenia)
Death in itself is nothing; but we fear
To be we know not what, we know not where.
John Dryden (Aureng-zebe, 1675)
None are so busy as the fool and knave.
John Dryden (The Medal, 1682)
Is it not evident, in these last hundred years (when the Study of Philosophy has been the business of all the Virtuosi in Christendome) that almost a new Nature has been revealed to us? that more errours of the School have been detected, more useful Experiments in Philosophy have been made, more Noble Secrets in Opticks, Medicine, Anatomy, Astronomy, discover'd, than in all those credulous and doting Ages from Aristotle to us? So true it is that nothing spreads more fast than Science, when rightly and generally cultivated.
John Dryden (Of Dramatic Poesie, 1684)
Tomorrow do thy worst, I have lived today. 
John Dryden (Quoted in The Poetry of John Dryden, 1920)
Let grace and goodness be the principal loadstone of thy affections. For love which hath ends, will have an end; whereas that which is founded on true virtue, will always continue. 
John Dryden (Quoted in Laconics: The Best Words by the Best Authors, 1829)
What passions cannot music raise or quell?
John Dryden (A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687)
Beware the fury of a patient man.
Variant: Beware the anger of a patient man.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel - Part I, 1681)
That, if the Gentiles, whom no Law inspired,
By Nature did what was by Law required;
They, who the written Rule and never known,
Were to themselves both Rule and Law alone:
To Natures plain Indictment they shall plead;
And, by their Conscience, be condemned or freed.
John Dryden (Religio Laici, 1682)
He who would search for pearls must dive below. 
John Dryden (All for Love - Prologue, 1678)
Possess your soul with patience.
John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther - Part III, 1687)
So over violent, or over civil
That every man with him was God or Devil.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel - Part I, 1681)
Chaucer followed Nature everywhere, but was never so bold to go beyond her.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - Preface, 1700)
Go miser go, for money sell your soul. Trade wares for wares and trudge from pole to pole, So others may say when you are dead and gone. See what a vast estate he left his son. 
John Dryden
Since every man who lives is born to die,
And none can boast sincere felicity,
With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,
Nor joy, nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - Palamon and Arcite, 1700)
Reason is a crutch for age, but youth is strong enough to walk alone. 
John Dryden
Genius must be born, and never can be taught.
John Dryden (Epistle the Tenth to Congreve, 1693)
Love is love's reward.
John Dryden (Fables, Ancient and Modern - Palamon and Arcite, 1700)
A man so various, that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome.
John Dryden (Absalom and Achitophel, 1681)
Look around the inhabited world; how few know their own good, or knowing it, pursue.
John Dryden (Juvenal - Satire X, 1693)
You see through love, and that deludes your sight, As what is straight seems crooked through the water. 
John Dryden (All for Love - Act II, 1678)

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John Dryden Biography

Born: August 9, 1631
Died: May 1, 1700

John Dryden was an English poet, translator and writer. He was the chief and highly influential literary figure during his time.

Notable Works

The Enchanted Island (1667)
An Evening's Love (1668)
The Mistaken Husband
(1674)
Absalom and Achitophel
(1681)
MacFlecknoe
(1682)
The Hind and the Panther
(1687)
King Arthur
(1691)
Alexander's Feast
(1697)
Fables, Ancient and Modern
(1700)
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